Toasting the barley before it boils brings out nutty flavor. Pressing and draining tofu helps it take on flavors more readily and improves its cooked texture.
Cooking Light SEPTEMBER 2010
1. To prepare tofu, place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Top with a cutting board; place a heavy skillet on top of cutting board. Let stand 45 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Cut each tofu slice into 10 cubes; arrange in a single layer in a shallow dish.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Combine brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl. Pour sugar mixture over tofu in dish, and turn to coat. Let stand for 25 minutes. Arrange tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Cool completely.
4. To prepare salad, heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add barley to pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add 5 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Drain; cool completely. Place barley in a large bowl.
5. Cook green beans in boiling water for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge green beans into ice water. Drain well; pat dry. Add beans to barley.
6. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush tops of mushrooms with 2 teaspoons oil. Add mushrooms to pan, oiled side down. Cook 5 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cool slightly; slice mushrooms thinly. Add tofu, mushrooms, and green onions to barley mixture.
7. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, agave nectar or honey, grated ginger, and minced garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over barley mixture in bowl; stir well to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
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